Lansing Update: January 12, 2007

In this issue of Lansing Update:

  1. School Safety Bill Signed Into Law
  2. MCC President Named to State Emergency Financial Advisory Panel
  3. House Democrats Roll Out Restructured Committees
  4. State of State Address Set for February 6

School Safety Bill Signed Into Law

Legislation that will provide non-public schools with the critical tools needed to ensure a safe learning environment for children was signed into law this week.

The legislation is part of an overall package of bills that was enacted last year requiring background checks on all paid school and day-care center employees, and prohibits anyone with a sex offense from being employed.

Public Act 680 of 2006 allows an intermediate school district, pubic school academy or non-public school to request a criminal history check on a candidate for employment from the criminal records division of the Department of State Police. The legislation will also allow non-public schools to request the State Police to conduct a criminal records check on an individual through the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The school safety package overwhelmingly passed the legislature in 2006, with the Michigan Catholic Conference working with state and federal education officials to ensure proper implementation of the legislation in the non-public school setting.

PA 680 was sponsored by former State Representative Shelley Taub (R-Bloomfield Hills).

MCC President Named to State Emergency Financial Advisory Panel

Sister Monica Kostielney, R.S.M., President and Chief Executive Officer of the Michigan Catholic Conference, was named this week [Link no longer available —Ed.] by Governor Granholm to a panel of advisors charged with the task of evaluating the present and future condition of Michigan’s economy.

The panel is co-chaired by former governors James J. Blanchard and William G. Milliken.

“I am honored to have been chosen to serve with many distinguished leaders from both the public and private sectors in our assigned task to suggest policies that work toward an economically just society for all Michigan residents,” said Sr. Monica.

The governor appointed the panel in an effort to receive counsel on how best the state could avoid future economic crisis. Michigan’s economy has been among the worst in the nation in terms of job creation, unemployment and personal income.

The group will report its recommendations at the end of the month, prior to Governor Granholm’s February 6th State of the State Address (see related story) and her subsequent 2008 state budget proposal. Helping to assess the state revenue outlook will be the January 18th Revenue Estimating Conference, which is expected to inform legislators of a $1 billion shortfall in the coming fiscal years.

The 12-member panel appointed by the governor also includes Dr. John Porter, former president of Eastern Michigan University and former state superintendent for public instruction; Paul Hillegonds, senior vice president of DTE Energy and former co-speaker of the state House of Representatives; Dan DeGrow, superintendent of St. Clair County Regional Educational Service Agency and former Republican state Senate majority leader; Dr. Lou Anna K. Simon, president of Michigan State University; Frank Kelley, former Michigan attorney general; S. Martin Taylor, University of Michigan regent; John “Joe” Schwarz, M.D., former U.S. Congressman and former chair of the state Senate Appropriations Committee; Don Gilmer, Kalamazoo County administrator and former state budget director; and Doug Roberts, former state treasurer.

House Democrats Roll Out Restructured Committees

While members and chairs are expected to be named by January 23, the House Democrat majority this week announced there will be 23 standing committees for the 2007–2008 legislative session, up from 22 last session.

The most interesting formation is the New Economy and Quality of Life Committee, which is expected to include 11 members. Also of note is the elimination of the Oversight, Elections and Ethics Committee, which has broken up into an eight-member Elections and Ethics Committee and a five-member Oversight and Investigations Committee.

The 11-member Intergovernmental, Urban and Regional Affairs Committee replaces the former Local Government and Urban Policy Committee, and the former seven-member Employment Relations, Training and Safety Committee has morphed into an eleven-member Labor Committee.

Additional changes include dissolving the Higher Education and Career Preparation Committee, and altering a nine-member Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Committee into the Military, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Committee.

Last session’s committees that addressed environmental issues—the Conservation, Forestry and Outdoor Recreation Committee, and the Natural Resources, Great Lakes, Land Use and the Environment Committee—are being transposed into a fifteen-member Great Lakes and the Environment Committee and an eleven-member Tourism, Outdoor Recreation and Natural Resource Committee.

The remaining fourteen committees that will maintain their structure are Agriculture, Appropriations, Banking and Financial Services, Commerce, Energy and Technology, Family and Children Services, Government Operations, Health Policy, Insurance, Judiciary, Regulatory Reform, Senior Health, Security and Retirement, Tax Policy and Transportation.

State of State Address Set for February 6

Governor Jennifer Granholm will deliver from the House Chambers of the State Capitol on February 6 her 2007 State of the State Address before a joint meeting of the Michigan House of Representatives and State Senate.

Michigan Government Television and Michigan Public Television will broadcast the speech live across the state beginning at 7:00 p.m.

The annual State of the State Address gives the governor a forum to present her assessment of the State while outlining legislative priorities for the coming year.